Trying to make sense out of absentee ballot applications

by Roland D. Hallee

With the push by municipal officials encouraging voters to cast their ballots early, and the aggressive campaigns taken by political candidates to get-out-the-vote, much confusion has surfaced as to the process of voting absentee.

At the head of the confusion is the fact that many households are receiving multiple unsolicited applications in the mail.

According to area election officials, individual voters are receiving multiple absentee ballot applications.

Michelle Flewelling, Fairfield town manager, stated, “There are two registered voters at my address, we have received eight absentee ballot requests in the mail so far.”

China Town Clerk Angela Nelson pointed out, “We have received multiple absentee ballot applications from individuals. When this happens, we write ‘Duplicate Submission’ on the additional requests and staple them to the first processed application. If residents are receiving these additional applications in the mail they can simply destroy them.”

Vassalboro Town Clerk Cathy Coyne stressed, “Once you have applied for an absentee ballot, toss all other requests. You can only apply for one absentee ballot.”

Patti Dubois, Waterville city clerk, informed the public that if a voter receives multiple applications, “Do not call your municipal clerk, since these mailings are coming from outside civic/political groups. If a voter has already submitted an absentee ballot request form, disregard any additional ones received in the mail.” According to Dubois, to check on the status of an absentee ballot, go to

Flewelling added, “If you should happen to fill [out a second ballot] and mail it to your town office, the second application will be denied. Since you are only allowed to receive one set of ballots per election, and all absentee requests are processed through the state of Maine, Secretary of State computer system, it will be obvious to the election clerks that more than one request has been submitted.”

In most towns, absentee ballot applications can be found on the community’s website. If you have not applied for an absentee ballot, and receive one in the mail, it may be filled out and returned to your municipal office.

Once a person receives their ballots, which will be mailed on or about October 3, there are multiple ways to cast the ballot. They can be mailed back to their respective town offices; they can be hand carried to the municipal offices, or, in some communities, placed in the convenient ballot collection boxes located outside their town offices. They should not be brought to the polls on election day.

In Waterville, the drop box is located outside the main entrance to city hall. In the town of Fairfield, the ballot collection box is located at the town office near the handicap accessible ramp. In China, the drop box, once it arrives, according to Nelson, will be located outside, in front of the town office.

According to Flewelling, should voters who have applied for absentee ballots not receive them in the mail by October 15, they should contact their respective town office.

But the COVID-19 pandemic will cause other election day problems. Since many people will insist on in-person voting at the polls, state CDC guidelines will be observed.

According to Dubois, “In Waterville, anyone who waits to vote on election day should plan for long lines. Due to social distancing requirements and gathering limits that are capped at 50, including staff and voters, there will only be approximately 25 voters within the voting area at one time.”

Voters should also be aware that eligible voters must be allowed to vote on election day whether they choose to wear a mask or not.

All the town officials stressed that voters are asked to have patience with the election workers who are all doing the best they can under the challenging conditions.

The polling places are: In China, in the portable building at 571 Lakeview Dr., behind the town office, from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.;

In Vassalboro, according to Coyne, at the Vassalboro Community School, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. In Fairfield, at the Fairfield Community Center, 61 Water St., from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.; in Waterville, Waterville Junior High School, 100 West River Rd., 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley Railway transportation

by Mary Grow

Although the narrow-gauge railroad that was built inland from Wiscasset starting in 1894 never reached either Québec (its first name was the Wiscasset and Québec) or Waterville or Farmington (later it was the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington) (see The Town Line, Sept. 17), as the WW&F it was an integral part of towns along its route.

Reminiscences from Palermo include the WW&F. Dean Marriner mentioned the WW&F in two Kennebec Valley histories. The histories of China and Vassalboro include the WW&F. Clinton Thurlow, of Weeks Mills, wrote three small books on the WW&F. Ruby Crosby Wiggin titled her town history Albion on the Narrow Gauge; the cover has a sketch of engine number 7 taking on water at the Albion water tank, and her introduction says that for 40 years the WW&F was vital to the town and in 1964 residents still remembered it fondly.

Milton E. Dowe’s 1954 Palermo history (the town was incorporated in 1804, so this booklet would be a sesquicentennial history) points out that the WW&F did not even enter Palermo; the Branch Mills station, though called Palermo, was in China, west of the village the two towns share. However, Dowe wrote in the history and in his later book, Palermo, Maine Things That I Remember in 1996, the railroad carried Palermo residents on business and pleasure trips; it brought things they needed, like mail and foodstuffs for local grocery stores; and it took away things they sold, like milk and cream, lumber and bark, apples, potatoes and grain.

Dowe wrote in his history that the regular passenger fare to Wiscasset was $1.25, and excursion fares were $1.00 round trip. After the branch line to Winslow opened in 1902, Palermo residents had the option of riding to Waterville.

The railroad served traveling salesmen, Dowe wrote. They would sell to Palermo residents, play cards and swap stories in Branch Mills stores and spend the night at the Branch Mills Hotel. The next day they would move on to China Village or Albion.

The Palermo station was flanked by three potato houses where local potatoes were sorted and bagged ready for shipment, mainly to the Boston market. One year (presumably early in the 20th century), Dowe wrote, 100,000 bushels of potatoes were shipped through the station. At that time, farmers could expect to be paid $1 per barrel.

The creamery, also near the station, collected and pasteurized milk, brought in by the wagonload. Butter was made by the pound; Dowe said production averaged 3,000 pounds a week. The creamery later became an apple cannery and cider mill. Dowe described a line of 75 wagons waiting to unload apples during a week in 1920 when 3,000 bushels of cider apples arrived for processing.

The China bicentennial history says there were three other WW&F stations in China. From south to north, they were west of Weeks Mills; south of South China; and east of China Village. (The China Village station was on the east side of the head of China Lake; the village is on the west side. A causeway crosses the inlet stream.)

Each station was a small rectangular wooden building with an overhanging roof, the history says. The stations were painted the WW&F colors, two shades of green. Weeks Mills, South China, and China Village stations each had one nearby potato house.

The Weeks Mills station complex was west of the Sheepscot River and south of Main Street. It included a freight building and one of the WW&F’s five water tanks, put up in 1913; south of the station building was a roundhouse with space for four engines (used as a hay barn for a few years after the WW&F went out of business).

South of the roundhouse was the turntable on which an engine was shifted to either the Albion or the Winslow line. The China history describes the turntable as having ball bearings in the middle, a circular outer rim encasing a wheel and two tracks that could be turned different directions as needed. The machinery ran so easily that two men could operate it with a locomotive on it, the history says.

Frank Noyes opened a canning factory about 1904 and used the WW&F to ship out canned corn and succotash and later each fall apples and cider. The factory closed in 1931; the China history blames the Depression, which killed Noyes’ profit.

Thurlow’s three small, generously-illustrated books start with a focus on Weeks Mills, where he retired after a career teaching history. He found numerous original documents, like a 1911 set of operating orders. Among other things, the orders absolutely prohibited smoking around the trains and drinking alcohol on duty.

While the WW&F’s line to Winslow served Vassalboro between 1902 and 1915 or 1916, Vassalboro residents and goods traveled both ways. James Schad’s chapter in Anthology of Vassalboro Tales says that lumber, potatoes, canned corn and poultry were shipped to Wiscasset, to continue by water to Boston and other points south. Imports included coal to power North Vassalboro mills, feed and grain for farmers and supplies for local retailers.

Vassalboro had at least two WW&F stations. Schad’s article is accompanied by a photo of one on Oak Grove Road that served North Vassalboro, and Robbins’ bicentennial history mentions East Vassalboro’s “pretty little station,” later converted to a house that was evidently still occupied in 1971.

The photo in the Vassalboro anthology shows Engine No. 4, with no cars attached, in front of a rectangular wooden building. The engineer (probably) stands in shirtsleeves and cap, right hand on right hip, left arm draped casually on the engine. Two more formally dressed men accompany him, and three others stand on the trackside platform under the building’s overhanging roof.

Thurlow’s WW&F Two-footers includes 1964 photos of the former Winslow and North Vassalboro stations, both converted into two-story houses.

The Winslow line brought people to two attractions on the west side of China Lake a bit north of South China. One was a dance pavilion; excursion cars from Winslow took passengers out for the evening and brought them home around midnight, Thurlow and other sources say. Thurlow adds that north of the pavilion was a mineral spring where train crews were known to make unofficial stops so they and their passengers could have a refreshing break.

Wiggin speculated that the WW&F was more important to Albion people than to others it served because George H. Crosby, prominent among the railway’s founders, was an Albion native (see the article on Albion in the June 11 issue of The Town Line, p. 11), and because many Albion residents invested heavily in railroad stock. Additionally, she wrote, the railroad employed Albion residents (and those in other towns).

The Albion station had the northernmost of the WW&F’s five water tanks, coal sheds and a turntable. The building was the only one of the 15 WW&F stations (11 on the Albion line, four on the Winslow line) to have a second floor; Thurlow wrote that a conductor named Alfred Rancourt and his family lived above the station for 11 years.

In 1908 the Albion-Wiscasset fare was $1.50. In ideal conditions, the trip could be made in two hours; on the five-and-a-half mile stretch between China Village and Albion, several sources say the train often traveled at 60 miles an hour.

There are many, many local stories about the WW&F as a sort of family railroad. Most, unfortunately, are undated. Some are handed down; others local writers witnessed or heard directly from participants or observers.

Wiggin wrote from personal experience with the railroad and from interviews with other local residents, especially Earl Keef, who worked for the railroad for about 30 years, much of the time as an engineer. Consequently she included many personal stories in her Albion history.

For example, she quoted the neighbor who said she and two other women were admiring the first bananas they had ever seen in a local store window. The foreman of the Italian crew building the rail line bought each of them the first banana she’d ever eaten.

Another story is of a train that left Wiscasset at 2 a.m. in a snowstorm, with an attached plow and flange blocking the engineer’s view. At Palermo, the train was flagged down: a local doctor heading home after an emergency call was using the track ahead for his snowmobile (converted from an old Ford).

One of the crew volunteered to ride on the snowplow to watch out for the popular doctor. At the next trestle, they paused to make sure the doctor hadn’t fallen off it; but his tracks continued across.

The train finally caught up with him in Albion. China’s roads were plowed, so he switched to roads and reached Albion as the train did. Later, he said he made better time on the tracks than on the highway.

Yet another story, in Thurlow’s Weeks Mills “Y” (repeated in the China history), tells of Weeks Mills resident Edna Van Strien reaching East Vassalboro on the WW&F as the electric trolley by which she planned to continue to Augusta was leaving. The WW&F engineer stopped the train athwart the trolley tracks and waited until she was safely on board before moving out of the trolley’s way.

Ernest Marriner has two of the best anecdotes about the WW&F. Neither, alas, is dated.

The first, in his Kennebec Yesterdays (1954) concerns the line’s most successful – and unsuccessful – train. A mixed (freight and passenger) train, it carried an unusually large load of bark from Winslow, which was to go by sea from Wiscasset to a Massachusetts tannery. It also had an unusual number of passengers planning to witness the launch of a new schooner from a Wiscasset shipyard.

Marriner related that WW&F stockholders, informed of the big – and profitable — run, started touting the railroad to residents along the line. A welcoming committee assembled in Wiscasset.

The engineer and fireman added to the publicity by blowing the loud whistle constantly. Thus, Marriner wrote, they used a lot of steam and had to stop at water tanks. Perhaps because they allegedly had a generous supply of rum, they soon forgot about the water; and in Alna, the engine died. The load of bark eventually reached its destination, but neither the stockholders nor the excursionists were happy.

Marriner’s second story is in Remembered Maine (1957). He (like other local historians) wrote that WW&F engineers would usually stop wherever they saw someone trying to attract their attention, not just at stations and when the flag was up at a flag stop. One day, a Weeks Mills woman ran trackside and waved her apron.

The engineer shut down the engine and climbed out of the cab. The woman allegedly told him her hen was about to lay the twelfth egg; as soon as she had the full dozen, she wanted the engineer to take the eggs to the store in Wiscasset and swap them for a spool of thread and a bottle of vanilla.

Main sources:

Bernhardt, Esther, and Vicki Schad, compilers/editors, Anthology of Vassalboro Tales (2017).
Dowe, Milton E., History Town of Palermo Incorporated 1884 (1954).
Dowe, Milton E., Palermo, Maine Things That I Remember in 1996 (1997).
Grow, Mary M., China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984).
Marriner, Ernest, Kennebec Yesterdays (1954).
Marriner, Ernest, Remembered Maine (1957).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).
Websites, miscellaneous.


The WW&F Railway Station Restoration Project Albion, Maine

by Phillip Dow, Albion Historical Society

The year was 1976. Albion townsfolk banded together to present a week-long period celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of our great country, the United States of America.

It was suggested that the Albion railroad station be preserved. Nothing was done to improve the structure for another 10 years. New blood got involved and the Albion Historical Society was formed. Their first major project was to try to save the old railroad station. John and Ora Rand, the owners of the station, graciously gave it to the Albion Historical Society for a museum.

Time and money were the big factors holding up progress on the restoration of said building. Donations finally came in and away we went. Dirt work around the building started. The old building was braced up, inside and out. The station had to be gutted, both downstairs and up. Cobwebs, spiders, bats and mice had to find a new home.

But, 10 years later, with the help of many people, a concrete slab was poured to the tune of $20,000. Floor joists and studs were added. New lumber replaced the old rotted boards. Asphalt shingles and a new chimney were added. A $500 grant was received and new wooden-framed windows were purchased.

We discovered stamped on one of the hidden window sills “Mathews Bros., Belfast, Me.” The original windows had been installed in 1895. Where did we purchase the new windows? Mathews Bros., with one “t,” Belfast, Me., one hundred years later.

Pine clapboard siding was painted and added. The interior of the railroad station is fairly simple in style, but it is the simple style that we should go back to, at least for a few days.

Albion railroad station, before, left, and after restorations.

VASSALBORO: All going well with school reopening

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Community School (VCS) has started the year well, administrators told School Board members as they met Sept. 15, at the beginning of the second week of classes. Safety regulations and educational programming both work well, so far.

Board members’ reaction included vetoing interscholastic sports – soccer, specifically, Principal Megan Allen said – this fall, for fear Vassalboro students could be exposed to coronavirus through close contact with students from other schools.

Allen said of the 400 students enrolled at VCS, 81 learn entirely from home; 166 attend on “Blue Days”; and 153 attend on “White Days.” The school calendar (available on the vcsvikings website) shows which days are which color.

Within each day’s group, students are further divided so that each classroom is a separate cohort, Allen said. The division means sometimes as few as half a dozen students spend all their time together, at recess, at lunch and in class.

Allen said small classes let teachers emphasize individual teaching, especially important after last spring’s disruption caused some students to miss parts of their education.

School officials are able to monitor students who are learning remotely, Allen said, and know which ones are not signing in or not turning in assignments.

She added that VCS has a number of new staff members, and they are “the most impressive group of new staff” in her three years here.

New staff members approved at the Sept. 15 meeting include third-grade teacher Ashlee Francis and math specialist Erica Millett.

Thanks to a federal program started in response to the coronavirus emergency, VCS offers free breakfasts and lunches to all students, regardless of family income. Parents need to fill out an application form, Allen said.

Students who will be learning remotely the next day are entitled to take meals home.

Mary Boyle, one of several administrators in the former AOS (Alternative Educational Structure) 92 who continue to work with member schools in Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow, listed other state and federal grants Vassalboro has received.

Will Backman, former AOS technology coordinator, said distance learning is working well, except for the day the internet for the Central Maine area was down most of the morning. He, Allen and other administrators praised the cooperation and mutual support that has helped solve problems with the new system.

In addition to the separate learning groups, other safety measures include arrows on floors to direct indoor traffic, blue Viking heads on the sidewalks to separate students in lines outdoors, and a new waiting room for the nurse’s office.

Nurse MaryAnn Fortin is glad to have the waiting room. She told School Board members some, but not enough, parents are checking their children’s temperatures before driving them to school or letting them board the school bus.

Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer said VCS, Waterville and Winslow have an agreement with Maine General Medical Center “just in case” school officials should need medical help.

The soccer discussion arose out of a usually routine School Board approval of co-curricular activities. Assistant Principal Greg Hughes said he was “really nervous about this fall,” because he is not sure other schools are being careful enough.

The Maine Principals’ Association has authorized regional soccer matches, Hughes said. Nonetheless, he proposed VCS students not participate, instead working on skills and holding in-school matches.

Board members spoke of the importance students place on sports, including competition with other schools. But in the interest of safety, they voted unanimously to, as Board Chairman Kevin Levasseur said, “keep it in-house” and not play against other schools.

Hughes plans to survey students who are learning entirely remotely and therefore are not part of any in-school cohort and will find a way to include those who want to participate.

The next Vassalboro School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Oct. 20.

Vassalboro finances in good shape with adequate surplus

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen heard updates on several aspects of town affairs at their Sept. 17 meeting.

Auditor Ron Smith, managing partner in Buxton-based RHR Smith & Company, said as of June 30, 2019, the town’s finances were in good shape, with an adequate surplus for emergencies.

“I think you guys are doing a fine job,” Smith told selectmen and Town Manager Mary Sabins, as bookkeeper Jean Poulin listened from the audience. His firm found no problems in town records and no need to make any corrective recommendations.

Sabins credited Poulin, who got a quick round of applause.

The audit for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2020, will not be available for some months.

Selectboard Chairman John Melrose asked School Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer whether town and school could do joint audits, now that Vassalboro has a town school department. Pfeiffer is willing to discuss the proposal.

Pfeiffer attended the meeting, the first he’s had time for since March, to tell selectmen opening Vassalboro Community School went smoothly. The majority of students spend part of their time learning, carefully, in the school building and part at home; others work entirely from home. The school provided laptops and Wifi hotspots to accommodate distance learning. Federal Covid-19 grants have been used for various safety accommodations, including paying for a new bus.

Public Works Director Eugene Field reported on road projects and plans for the rest of the construction season. Melrose said people are pleased with the town crew’s improvements on Bog Road.

Sabins said discussions continue about a China Lake fishing dock in East Vassalboro.

After a very brief public hearing that brought no comments, selectmen approved the annual state amendments to the appendices in the town’s General Assistance Ordinance. Observing anther annual ritual, they signed a Constitution Week proclamation. The week runs from Sept. 17 through Sept. 23 this year.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1.

Deputy clerk of the year

Kelly Grotton, town of China deputy clerk, received the prestigious award of Deputy Clerk of the Year from the Maine Town & City Clerks Association, on September 15. (contributed photo)

Vassalboro Riverside Drive solar project gets final approval

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members had three items on their Sept. 1 agenda and approved all of them, including final approval of another solar project in town.

The solar project is Longroad Energy’s development on land leased from Oak Grove Farm, LLC, at 2579 Riverside Drive (Route 201). As explained at previous meetings and at a sparsely-attended July 28 hearing, the project will cover about 27 acres and needs both state and local permits.

Kara Moody, one of Longroad’s two representatives at Vassalboro meetings, said the state Department of Environmental Protection reported today their state application has been found complete. Assuming state approval, her colleague, David Kane, anticipates work starting at the end of mud season next year. Construction should take about four months, he estimated.

The project is surrounded by trees on three sides, with a field on the east. Kane said some taller trees will be cut to avoid shading the panels, but clearing will be limited as much as possible.

The panels will not be fixed facing south, but will rotate to follow the sun from east to west. Kane said the panels will be high enough not to create a glare problem for drivers on Riverside Drive.

Planning board members found no adverse effects on the environment or neighbors and approved the project. Afterward, board Chairman Virginia Brackett, a teacher, mentioned the possibility of field trips to the installation. Kane, a former science teacher, said teachers and students would be welcome.

Board members also accepted the roadside screening plan for the previously-approved solar array on Bernard Welch’s land on Main Street (Route 32), between North and East Vassalboro.

Al Copping from ReVision Energy said a plan was developed in consultation with the state Department of Transportation and Steven Jones from Fieldstone Gardens in Vassalboro. It calls for 15 to 20 shrubs, a mix of forsythia, lilac and viburnum (chosen because they are supposed to be salt-tolerant and not attractive to deer).

The shrubs are to be planted in the spring of 2021. They will be about 10 feet apart and far enough from the roadway to allow for the state’s planned, and repeatedly postponed, reconstruction of Route 32. Copping said Welch has volunteered to help maintain the planting.

The third application Sept. 1 was from Edward Zinck, to add deck space at his Webber Pond camp. There will be no expansion toward the water, he said, and Codes Officer Paul Mitnik said the addition is within the size limit in the local shoreland ordinance.

Planning Board members approved Zinck’s permit, subject to state approval.

Mitnik announced that he plans to retire from the Vassalboro job in April 2021 – the third time he has retired, he said, and this time he intends to stick to it.

The next Vassalboro Planning Board meeting should be Tuesday evening, Oct. 6.

VASSALBORO: Town projects get attention of selectmen

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen spent most of their Sept. 3 meeting talking about spending money for town projects.

The meeting included a public hearing on TIF (Tax Increment Financing) fund requests from Maine Rivers, which runs the Alewife Restoration Project (ARI), and the Vassalboro Sanitary District (VSD). Maine Rivers is creating fish passage between the Sebasticook River and China Lake by removing or modifying dams on Outlet Stream. The VSD is connecting Vassalboro’s sewer system to Winslow’s and thence to the Waterville treatment plant.

Both groups have received TIF funds in the past, most recently part of their 2020 requests in the spring. Selectmen promised additional money as soon as taxes on the natural gas pipeline through Vassalboro replenished the TIF fund.

In the spring, Maine Rivers got $83,000 of its $143,000 request. The money is being used to install a fishway at the Box Mills dam in North Vassalboro.

The VSD received $72,265 of $166,000 requested. The project engineer, Richard Green, Senior Environmental Engineer with Hoyle, Tanner & Associates of Winthrop, said Sept. 3 that district trustees plan to use the money to repay loans that financed the extension to Winslow. Their alternative is to raise the money from user fees.

Town Manager Mary Sabins presented a TIF balance of $120,245. The total promised the two groups was $155,735, leaving a deficit of $33,290 if the TIF balance were drawn down to zero.

Selectmen unanimously approved the Maine Rivers request. Spokesman Landis Hudson said the technically complex Box Mills project is going well. The final fishway at Outlet Dam in East Vassalboro is planned for 2021.

Discussion focused on the Sanitary District request. The district is repaying two loans, one requiring more than $37,000 a year for 30 years and the other more than $72,000 a year for 40 years.

Sabins said Vassalboro’s 30-year TIF is about four years old.

Green said the sewer project is “pretty much done,” and therefore no more grants are available. Sewage is flowing to Winslow, he said, and an odor control issue is being addressed.

There was consensus that Vassalboro’s fewer than 200 households on the sewer already pay high rates compared to users in other similarly-sized Maine towns. However, selectmen refused to spend more money than was in the TIF fund; and they refused to reduce the fund to zero.

When new Selectman Barbara Redmond asked why maintain the proposed $10,000 balance, veteran board member Robert Browne replied, “Just in case. Something might happen” that would qualify as an economic development project eligible for TIF money.

After almost half an hour’s discussion, selectmen approved $50,000 from TIF funds for the Sanitary District.

Board members also heard updates on the Gray Road culvert replacement project and on the Vassalboro Volunteer Fire Department’s plan to buy a new fire engine, as authorized at town meeting in July (postponed from the usual June).

After discussion of timing of the Gray Road project, which will require closing the road, Gregory MacAlister, of Calderwood Engineering, proposed going out to bid in December, with plans to do in-water work in 2021 during the mid-July to mid-September window authorized by state environmental regulators.

Fire department spokesman Mike Vashon (who said he has been speccing fire trucks since 1983) described the new truck to be delivered in July 2021. He hopes to spend slightly less than voters approved, and is enthusiastic about the new engine’s larger pump and increased equipment storage space.

In other business Sept. 3, board Chairman John Melrose announced a Sept. 19 work day on the trails in the town forest north of the ballfields. Interested volunteers should contact him or town office staff.

Selectmen and Fire Chief Walker Thompson scheduled a selectmen’s tour of Vassalboro’s two fire stations for 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28.

Following up on the board’s Aug. 20 action, Sabins reported she sold the old police car to Ron’s Auto Parts on Main Street for $300, almost double the only bid selectmen received for the vehicle.

Melrose said East Vassalboro area residents would like selectmen to consider installing a fishing dock. Board members expressed interest in discussing the idea.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17.

Vassalboro Days slated for September 12 – 13

The Double Dam Ducky Derby will be held Saturday, September 12, at the Mill at 1 p.m. Tickets are $3 each or 5@ $10 and will be sold that day at the VBA Tent at the Mill up until ten minutes before the race. Tickets may be purchased from Ray Breton (207-877-2005) or at the Mill on Sundays from10 a.m. – 3 p.m! Proceeds benefit the many activities of the Vassalboro Business Association.

The Scavenger Hunt will be available to work on beginning September 4 and copies will be available at the Maine Savings FCU drive thru window; The Olde Mill Store and on Facebook’s Vassalboro Community Events and Announcements Page. Entries must be brought to the VBA Tent on the lawn at the Mill Saturday, September 12 by 4 p.m. Winners will be called and prizes will be awarded!

The Tastiest Vassalboro Masonic Lodge Fried Chicken Baskets will be available from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., on Saturday, September 12, on the lawn at the Mill. Proceeds benefit their Bikes for Books and other programs that benefit the Vassalboro community! You may order your baskets for $6 each by calling 207-441-0378 from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., that day!

The Mill Craft & Vendor Sale and Yard Sale will occur on Saturday, September 12, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in or outside of the Mill. The Yard Sale will also be open Sunday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Several Raffles are going on!

Vassalboro Library – Chalk Fest around Vassalboro. The Chalk Fest drawings will officially begin September 5 with the start of registration August 29. Weather permitting these drawings will be viewed during V Days! Chalk Fest designs may be located at the North Fire Dept., the Town Office, Maine Savings FCU, the old Town Office across from the Maine Savings FCU, St Bridget Center, the Vassalboro Library, the Historical Society, and perhaps VCS!. Call Brian Stanley at the Library to register, get your supplies, reserve your site, and understand the “Rules” at 923-3233.

The Library Book Sale will be held at the library from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., on Saturday, September 12, for $2/bag! Everything must Go! Great Deals and a great selection of books!

The Vassalboro Grange is having a Porch Pie Sale Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (or until they sell out!). They are $10/pie or $2/slice. Preorders taken until the night before at 207-649-2765. The Grange is hosting an FREE Open Mic Coffee House from 7 – 9 p.m., on Saturday. Coffee is free!

The Grange is hosting “Music in the Park” (next to Old East School) from 4 – 6 p.m., on Sunday Sept. 13. (Rain date is September 20) Bring your own blanket, mic, & chair. For more info email

The Historical Society will have the museum, Blacksmith Shop, and Harness Shop open from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday. Their new kids room will be open (Covid 19 permitting) Kids can use a typewriter and carbon paper, dial phones, play vintage games, and play with toys of yesteryear while listening to Victrolas play old tunes. Volunteers will help visitors find vintage photos of people, places, and things. Vassalboro schools’ graduations, Grange events, town records, family histories, Trolley and train info, and much more will be available.

Vassalboro’s Color Me Too Fun Run will begin at the Rec Fields on the Bog Rd on Sunday, September 13, at 9 a.m. Small groups will be released at intervals to make this a safe and fun event. Participants get sprayed with colored chalk as they walk/run the course and giant fans blow it off you after the event. Online Pre-registration is required. $25 each with a $2.50 fee. Each registered runner may run with 1 child under 12. (This event has been cancelled.)

On Sunday, the Rec Committee will hold a yard/vendor sale; have drone races in the back soccer field; and have cotton candy and other food available for sale at the Rec Fields most of the day!

The Rec Committee will sponsor a movie night on Saturday, September 12, at 7:30 p.m., featuring Jumanji!

Lemieux’s Orchard – All weekend will have apples, donuts, and the corn maze!

Participants at all events are encouraged to wear a face covering.

Vassalboro selectmen make progress on several issues, make no decisions

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen made progress on several issues at their Aug. 20 meeting, although the only absolutely final decision they made was to appoint Charlie Plourde as a recreation committee member.

Reviewing bids for reroofing the snack shack at the ballfields (which the recreation committee manages), they awarded the contract to Legacy Home Improvements, of South China for $6,900 – after Town Manager Mary Sabins talks with company representatives about two issues and assuming she reaches satisfactory results.

They reviewed a preliminary transfer station redesign plan from engineer Al Hodsdon, head of A. E. Hodsdon Engineers, of Waterville, and scheduled review of a final plan for their Sept. 17 meeting.

They read the bid from the only person interested in buying the retired police car and asked Sabins to see if junking it would be more profitable than accepting the bid.

They agreed that instead of appointing a committee chairperson (or chairpeople) for the 2021 sestercentennial (250th anniversary) of Vassalboro’s incorporation on April 26, 1761, selectmen will coordinate as local volunteers do their own projects.

John Melrose, the new chairman of the selectboard and promoter of the sestercentennial since last year, has been overseeing improvements to the park in East Vassalboro. He said other ideas so far include a 2021 commemorative calendar and postcards, a scavenger hunt for historic items, interpretive panels at significant places, a time capsule, an anthology of long-time residents’ stories and fireworks.

Melrose recommended scheduling events in two groups, one close to the April incorporation date and a second around the traditional Vassalboro Days celebration in September.

This September’s Vassalboro Days will include a chalkfest for which organizers are looking for paved areas on which to draw, Sabins said. Part of the town office parking lot might become one site.

Selectmen heard two additional progress reports: Sabins said 2020-21 tax bills had been sent out and payments were “already rolling in”: and Public Works Director Eugene Field said paving had started.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, in the town office meeting room.

Vassalboro school board approves 2020 opening plan

Vassalboro Community School. (source:

by Mary Grow

At their Aug. 18 meeting, Vassalboro School Board members approved the reopening plan developed by staff over the summer, in consultation with many students’ families, other state educators and state officials. Board members voted with the understanding the plan is subject to change as local circumstances or state recommendations change.

School is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Sept. 2. Teachers and other staff will be at Vassalboro Community School. Students will alternate by groups between in-school and remote learning, except those whose families have chosen remote learning only. The emphasis is on safety, including social distancing, face coverings, washing and sanitizing, health checks and other measures.

There have also been safety-minded rearrangements inside the school building, like making a waiting room outside the nurse’s office.

The reopening plan and related documents are on the school website,

Principal Megan Allen said, “We’re going to do this and we’re going to do it well. I feel good about people coming through these doors,” with a glance toward the school’s entrance.

“It could all change at any moment,” Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer warned.

In other business Aug. 18, board members approved five new appointments and welcomed the new staff members who were at the meeting. Gregory Hughes is assistant principal; Melora Norman is library/media specialist; Jenna Zemrak is literacy specialist; Teraysa Noyes is grade six and seven science teacher; and Chad Dixon is a special education teacher.

They accepted the resignations of gifted and talented teacher Julie Oliver, third-grade teacher Sally Putnam and special education technicians Amanda Caldarella and Erika Johnston.

Pfeiffer commended staff members from the former school union who work with Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow superintendents for their help getting the plan in place. He read a letter from a former student, now in the border patrol in Texas, thanking Vassalboro Community School for giving him the opportunity to start learning Spanish.

During the public comment period, board member Jessica Clark read an email from a parent wondering whether a Covid-19 vaccination, when developed, would be mandatory. School nurse MaryAnn Fortin said making a new vaccination mandatory would probably be a legislative decision, as current vaccination requirements are.

The next regular Vassalboro School Board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, in the school cafeteria.